ADHD Can Affect Your Sex Life: Here’s What You Need to Know

AAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to focus, ignore stimuli, complete tasks, stay organized and resist impulsivity, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Given that ADHD affects an estimated 6.76% of adults, which translates to 366 million people, it’s also crucial to understand the ways in which it can also affect a person’s sex life and, by extension, their relationships, intimacy and general health.

“The core manifestations of ADHD are distractibility and an inability to focus or complete tasks, which often come into play at work and school; however, a brain is a brain all the time, not just at work or school. So of course it could have an impact on your sex life,” says Anastasia Sielski Elizalde, LMSW, a psychotherapist specializing in sexuality and gender at Express Yourself Therapy.. Because people with ADHD often have difficulty staying focused, being present during sex and other acts of intimacy can also be difficult.”

“The main manifestations of ADHD are distractibility and an inability to focus or complete tasks… so of course it could have an impact on your sex life.” —Anastasia Sielski Elizalde, LMSW

In effect, this could mean struggling with aspects specific to sex, such as difficulty reaching orgasm, challenges with intimacy in general, interpersonal conflict as a result of not being able to focus on sex, and even impulsiveness when it comes to sex. But whether you personally have ADHD or a sexual partner, none of this is to say that you don’t have options or strategies to ensure a fulfilling and pleasure-rich intimacy. Below, get expert tips for having a great sex life when you have ADHD.

5 tips from sexual health professionals on how to have a satisfying sex life when you have ADHD

1. Prioritize communication

People with ADHD are prone to feeling bored or uninterested, says Elizalde, and although personal preference for sexual activities differs from person to person, sometimes people with ADHD want the sexual component that is most stimulating or exciting for them to take center stage. center place. So anything they find lacking in emotion could cause them to lose interest, says Cyndi Darnell, a sexologist and sex therapist, and author of Sex when you don’t feel like it: the truth about uneven libido and the rediscovery of desire.

This can cause conflict in a relationship when one partner may want a certain activity and wonder why their partner is not willing to do it. Take, for example, the situation of a partner who wants to kiss during foreplay, but the partner with ADHD is eager to jump right into sex.

In cases like these, Elizalde suggests making sure your lines of communication within the relationship are open. So much pain and conflict between partners can be avoided if both partners understand the inner workings of ADHD and their desire. One partner may claim that the other is not a bad kisser; they just don’t like to kiss for a long time.

2. Don’t be afraid to plan

People with ADHD tend to benefit from extra planning, organizing strategies and active reminders, says Darnell, so planning sex (rather than relying on it to be magical and spontaneous) can be especially helpful for people who they have ADHD.

Such planning can also be applied to acts other than sexual intercourse. For example, Darnell recommends that people with ADHD set phone reminders to hug their partner or to say goodbye or to offer physical affection. “The small everyday acts of attention and affection, whether they are small questions, text messages or touches, contribute to building desire in a relationship,” she adds.

3. Be more aware of your impulses to take risks

Since ADHD correlates with impulsivity, it’s crucial to be aware of the implications of this on a person’s sex life. It could mean that they enjoy sex if there is a higher risk involved, which could mean giving up protection with someone they don’t know well, for example.

To ensure that the penchant for risky and impulsive behavior doesn’t lead into unsafe territory, sexually speaking, Elizalde suggests focusing on self-awareness and self-reflection, specifically checking in on your sexuality, what you like, what you don’t like, what turns you on you, and what you don’t, says Elizalde. For example, if feeling excited is an important part of arousal for you, introspect to make sure your behaviors are not a risk to your health and well-being.

It is important to separate the idea of ​​”exciting” from “unsafe”.

Certainly, it is possible to have sex that appeals to a sense of risk without putting yourself in danger. You can protect dates or parties where you want to have sex, get tested regularly, and discuss boundaries and consent thoroughly before having sex with a new partner. These steps can be taken without diminishing the excitement of a new encounter, and it’s also important to separate the idea of ​​”exciting” from “unsafe,” says Darnell.

4. Work with your medication

When prescribed, ADHD medications are important and helpful to the people who take them. Although they can help you do laundry or work, they can also be useful in your sex life, says Elizalde. Since you may not want to take medication before bedtime (so you can sleep through the night), you might consider changing the time you have sex.

“Some medications can decrease a person’s sex drive, and if this happens, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor,” says Marcy Caldwell, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and ADHD specialist. She may also find that she can focus differently during sex if she has sex in the morning or after she’s taken her dose (whenever possible), she adds. So consider trying sex at different times, based on your medication regimen, so you can gauge when the time will be best for you.

5. Bring more novelty to the bedroom

“ADHD brains are highly motivated by novelty, and so any way that someone with ADHD can inject novelty into their sexual relationships can benefit them and keep them engaged,” says Dr. Caldwell. “This may involve experimenting with kinks, role-playing, adding additional partners, or even just trying out new locations and positions.”

For example, sex toys are an excellent tool for people with ADHD, according to Elizalde, because they allow for more stimulation, novelty, and rewarding activities. If being patient for an orgasm is a turnoff, try using a vibrator during sex to make sure you don’t lose interest. You could also use a stimulating lubricant that offers warm or tingling sensations if that’s particularly appealing to you, says Darnell. Just incorporating different things into sex can be good for the novelty-seeking ADHD brain.

“A loving, adventurous, and creative partner is also extremely helpful: someone who can go on the creative novelty-seeking journey with the person, and someone who can appreciate and enjoy the energy that the ADHD brain brings to sex,” says Dr. Caldwell. This is an important reminder that the ways ADHD affects sex are not always negative and are often simply different from a neurotypical brain.

Creativity, confidence, curiosity, and a desire to try new things are valuable traits to have in many different areas of your life, including the bedroom. And, says Dr. Caldwell, there are many, many people who would be really excited and grateful for a partner like this.

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